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As Long as We Remember...

June 17, 2016

Teacher, Friend, Father

Joe Charlebois

It is hard to succinctly define what a father is or should be. It's even harder to articulate what a father means to his son.


I respect no man on the face of this earth more that my father. He has shared so many things with me over the course of my life I couldn’t adequately enumerate them in the following paragraphs. Hopefully this will do some justice.


One of the earliest memories I have of my father is one in which he is standing in the four-foot section of a swimming pool with arms outstretched. I nervously stood at the pool’s edge building up the courage to jump. He stood patiently waiting for me to get up the nerve to dive into his arms. I finally made the leap, but soon I realized that I wasn’t in his arms, I was splashing in the pool working to stay afloat. Quickly learning that to stay afloat I needed to tread water and in order to make it into his waiting arms I needed to pull myself through the water toward him. After repeating this jump several times I came to realize that my father was slowly drifting further and further away from the pool’s edge gently encouraging me to push further and to my limits.


Learning to swim was a microcosm of all the things he – knowingly or not – taught me over the years. Before there were boogie boards, there were blue rafts with yellow trim that we blew up every beach vacation. He taught me how to “surf” on these rafts, and how I could dive directly into the crashing waves if I was ever caught in the breakers.


He taught me how to throw a baseball and how to snap a football. I developed a lifelong love of sports in most part, I’m sure, of seeing his passion.


He instilled a confidence in me that I could fix anything. It may have taken longer than he would have hoped, but there is very little that I don’t try to fix before calling up the professionals. When I was younger, if he would ask me to bring him a particular tool, I would rarely bring back the right one if I could find it at all. I’ve repaired dishwashers, refrigerators, dryers, washing machines, fences, deck, woodwork, cars, and plumbing due to his “can do” mentality that I derived from my father.


He taught me how to dress and how to tie a double Windsor knot. I learned that there are certain items of clothing that never go out of style. Buy the best and you can wear them forever. I have a camel hair over coat and a herringbone tweed jacket from his college days to prove that point.


When I was 14, he showed me how to drive a stick shift car. Since then, I’ve driven all types of vehicles with a clutch including heavy equipment and 20-ton dump trucks. He didn’t give up on me and wouldn’t let me give up when making a right hand turn, I accidentally held onto the steering wheel and took his Suburban up the side of a hill on Middle Road.


Together we laid out a beautiful brick patio and walkway, we cut down 60-foot trees within 10 feet of the deck and laid them down in the direction we wanted.


I learned never to leave before the last whistle.  Always work hard at whatever you do. Use common sense. Live your Christian values. Take responsibility for your own actions. Tell the truth – it hurts a lot less than getting caught in a lie. Don’t be afraid to cry.


Most of all – my father taught me that no matter what you may gain or lose in life, you will always have family. Family is your most precious gift, treasure every moment you have with them.


Happy Father’s Day.


Woodsboro - Walkersville Times
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